08 November 2019

Quote for the day -- that which produces results

"Show me a cultural relativist at thirty thousand feet and I'll show you a hypocrite.  Airplanes built according to scientific principles work.  They stay aloft, and they get you to a chosen destination.  Airplanes built to tribal or mythological specifications, such as the dummy planes of the cargo cults in jungle clearings or the beeswaxed wings of Icarus, don't.  If you are flying to an international congress of anthropologists or literary critics, the reason you will probably get there -- the reason you don't plummet into a ploughed field -- is that a lot of Western scientifically trained engineers have got their sums right.  Western science, acting on good evidence that the moon orbits the Earth a quarter of a million miles away, using Western-designed computers and rockets, has succeeded in placing people on its surface.  Tribal science, believing that the moon is just above the treetops, will never touch it outside of dreams."

-- Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden (1995).  Of course science and the associated technology, while of Western origin, can be used equally well by people of non-Western background who have mastered those areas of knowledge, because science and mathematics (and only those things) are genuinely universal truth.  The contrast here is with non-scientific "ways of knowing", which have no concrete achievements to their credit and never will.


Blogger nothoughtsnoprayersnonothing said...

I guess I'm not a cultural relativist ... at thirty thousand feet or any amount of feet. My feet are firmly planted on the ground. Not that I'm afraid of course. I am sure they will stay aloft and get me to my destination. What I am afraid of is that I will yell out, "OMG!" in case they didn't.

09 November, 2019 03:04  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

Science is always the way to go if you ask me. But that doesn't mean I'll ever get on a plane again. lol

09 November, 2019 07:35  
Blogger Mike said...

The sad backstory is there is always fighting between the engineers and the bean counters.

09 November, 2019 16:01  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

No Thoughts: There are plenty of situations where cultural relativism is clearly absurd.

Mary: I'm not fond of flying myself. But with modern technology, at least we can.

Mike: Here's a good example.

09 November, 2019 19:45  

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